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Success or Underachievement in Gifted Students

How parents, schools, and the community can work together for gifted students to succeed

Mary Hudson

on 11 October 2012

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Transcript of Success or Underachievement in Gifted Students

Excellence or Underachievement How parents and the community can work together to help gifted students succeed.
Being gifted is not an automatic path to academic or professional success. Homer Hickman's journey to build a rocket in the days just after Sputnick in a small town in West Virginia highlights many struggles our gifted students face. When gifted students fail to achieve at the level of their potential, many different factors may be affecting their behaviors. Gifted students may also have academic deficiencies that need to be addressed before their dreams can be achieved. Some studies have shown that disparity between subject achievement is the rule rather than the exception (Winner, 1996). It takes the whole community to support gifted students. Parents, teachers and the community need to be involved in helping these students meet their potential. Gifted students may not be understood by family or friends. When Homer announced his dream of building a rocket, his family didn't know how to react. Gifted students may cause challenges to the educational system. In the movie, the school principal was suspicious of the boys' rocket building and clearly didn't trust Homer in school. Negative expectations often produce exactly what is expected (Davis, Rimm & Siegle. 2011). The film October Sky (1998) opens as Sputnik circles the globe. Russia has entered the space age and the United States has been left behind. The movie depicts the struggle of Homer Hickman to follow his dreams of creating a rocket that would reach the sky. Homer struggles with many of the same obstacles that are in the way of our gifted students. He could have let the difficulties keep him from his dreams. Community expectations may also limit gifted students achievement. The community of Coalwood expected its residents to work in the mine, not build rockets that would reach the stars. When students are deficient in one or more areas, teachers need to be available to offer tutoring and other forms of support. Homer's teacher ordered him a text book that would help him reach his goals, even though she admitted the math was beyond her. Lori Flint found that many underachieving students realized that they had deficiencies, but didn't have a teacher or mentor to help them overcome the difficulty (2010). Luckily, Homer had that teacher. Creating a school and community based support system is important to gifted students. Just as we cheer our gifted athletes, we need to cheer for our academic stars. Gifted students need to have authentic projects to work on, with an authentic audience. Gifted students should be encouraged to participate in research that they are interested in as one way to enrich their academic experience. Science fairs are one way to allow students to produce real-world products for an authentic audience (Davis, Rimm, & Siegle, 2011). The county science fair gave these boys their first taste of success after hard work. References:

Davis, G. A., Rimm, S. B., & Siegle, D. (2011). Education of the gifted and talented. (6th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.

Flint, L. J. (2010). Using life-story research in gifted education: Part two: Results, synthesis, and discussion. AERA SIG 3-Journal Gifted Children, 4(1).

Gordon, C. & Franco, L. (Producers) & Johnston, J. (Director). (1998). October Sky [Motion picture]. USA: Universal Pictures.

Winner, E. (1996). Gifted Children: Myths and Realities. New York: Basic Books. With the right support and opportunities, our gifted students will also be able to reach the stars with their dreams. Where students live may also cause limitations to success. In Coalwood, WV, the boys believed that because of where they lived, they had little chance of success when competing with students from a wealthier community. Davis, Rimm, and Siegle found that traditionally, students who have been identified as gifted are from families who are in the higher socioeconomic status levels (2011).
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